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Posts Tagged ‘silence’

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Photo: Chris Livesay for NPR
A security guard blocks off the recording area outside the Violin Museum in Cremona, Italy, for a project to preserve every note of the Stradivarius violin.

When a whole town — or almost a whole town — gets on board to support an artistic project, the results can be impressive. I imagine that the key is to tap what matters to people. In this case, violins.

Christopher Livesay reported about the unusual preservation project at National Public Radio (NPR) in February.

“Inside the concert hall of the Violin Museum in Cremona, Italy, Antonio de Lorenzi plays the prelude from Bach’s Partita No. 3 on a Stradivarius violin. Cremona is the town where master luthier Antonio Stradivari crafted his storied instruments three centuries ago.

“But there’s no guarantee that his instrument’s inimitable sound will survive for centuries more, says Fausto Cacciatori, the museum’s chief conservator.

” ‘What will these instruments sound like in 200 years? I hope they can still be played,’ he says. ‘But you never know. All it takes is one unfortunate event. An earthquake, for instance. Think about what happened to so much art during World War II.’

“Cacciatori says Stradivarius instruments need a 21st century failsafe — and someone who understands music as well as technology to pull it off. Enter deejay Leonardo Tedeschi. …

“When he’s not spinning records, Tedeschi runs Audiozone, a northern Italian sound engineering firm. And he had an idea: ‘To bring the sound of Stradivari and make it accessible around the world,’ he says.

“The idea came to him in 2014, when he wanted to mix the analog sounds of Stradivarius violins in some of his own electronic recordings, but discovered the elements he needed were lacking. That’s when he reached out to the Violin Museum in Cremona, just a 45-minute drive from his native Piacenza, with a proposal.

“First, they would need to record Stradivarius instruments, and while they were at it, those of other master luthiers. Then they would have to save the recordings in a database that future composers could use to make their own music electronically.

“The Violin Museum, which was already concerned about preserving these sounds for future generations, agreed. … They would have to painstakingly record every possible note that can be played on each instrument.

” ‘Every possible note, and even more difficult, every note transition,’ explains Tedeschi. ‘From one note to all the other ones in the same string.’ …

“In the concert hall, Lorenzi, who is with the Italian Symphony Orchestra and has performed in the world’s top concert halls, plucks the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C — ‘do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do’ — on the Stradivarius violin. Then down the scale, until the engineers say they’ve got it. …

“He says, ‘It takes a lot of mental and physical concentration. It’s one of the most demanding things I’ve ever done.’

“But that meditative concentration is hard-won. Outside the museum, Tedeschi points out the thorn in his side.

“A rumble passes as a woman drags a suitcase across cobblestones. Then, the hiss of a street-sweeper machine. It’s what you’d expect in a city of 70,000 people, with a bustling open-air market and a population of typically boisterous Italians. …

” ‘Every time we hear this sound, the sound will mix with the frequency of our instruments, so we cannot use that sound in our product,’ Tedeschi laments.

“At the end of December, just before recording was set to begin, he went to the mayor of Cremona, Gianluca Galimberti, and asked for help. … The mayor asked the people of Cremona to please keep it down, and blocked traffic around the concert hall during recordings from Jan. 7 to Feb. 9.”

Did it work? Read more here.

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